NC legislators eye improvements to beleaguered foster care system

(CBS North Carolina)


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Around 10,500 kids in North Carolina are depending on the state to give them a good home. That’s why state lawmakers are now calling for an overhaul of the child welfare system. It’s an organization that has been struggling to keep up with the number of children entering foster care.

CBS NC reported on the foster parent shortage back in February.

“How many times do we have to be told that we are failing before we do something?” said Sen. Tamara Barringer, (R-Wake County)

Sen. Barringer says the state’s child welfare system recently failed a federal child and family services review.

“The CSFR measures seven child welfare outcomes and measures seven systemic factors. North Carolina failed all 14 criteria,” said Barringer.

A big focus of the Child/Family Protection and Accountability Act would be working across county lines.

The separation is something Bruce Stanley with the Methodist Home for Children has had trouble with while trying to place kids.

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“In an adjacent county there was someone that we thought would be absolutely awesome and a family environment the child could immediately be integrated into. And yet we would be on occasion prevented from placing that child,” said Stanley.

The proposed bill would also help teens in the foster care system get a driver’s license.

“Being 18 years old and being turned out in the street without a driver’s license is a very difficult and tall order to overcome,” said Sen. Tommy Tucker, (R-Union County).

“Good luck trying to find an apartment if you don’t have a driver’s license. Good luck trying to get a credit card so that you can establish some sort of credit history,” said Stanley.

Help getting a license would mean a lot to 19-year-old Jamie Heverley, who’s been in and out of the foster care system since he was eight.

“I knew I needed to get it done, I just never knew how I was going to get it done,” said Heverley of getting a driver’s license.

Heverley is glad to have the General Assembly working on the system that has determined so much in his life.

“I feel like that was a really, really big step in the right direction,” said Heverley.

In February, CBS North Carolina told you drug abuse by parents was a growing cause of children entering the foster care system. Barringer says legislators are working on a separate bill to address drug abuse prevention. She also says they want to vote on the child welfare reform as soon as possible.

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